Americans from coast to coast have lined up in large numbers for free goods from food banks, as unemployment caused by the pandemic leads many to seek Thanksgiving assistance they never dreamed they would need.
With the unemployment rate having doubled since before the pandemic, Thanksgiving is proving a stressful time for many families.
In Los Angeles on Monday, Snoop Dogg was handing out a turkey and all the trimmings to 2,500 Inglewood residents who had pre-registered for a drive-through event at the SoFi Stadium, home to the LA Chargers and Rams.
Snoop Dogg arrived at the Thanksgiving event on Monday in his baby blue classic car
Snoop Dogg has described Thanksgiving as one of his favorite holidays
Snoop Dogg has been handing out Thanksgiving food in Inglewood since 2013
A delighted family receives their Thanksgiving turkey from the rapper
Snoop Dogg speaks to the press at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood
The 49-year-old rapper, who in 2018 published his own cook book full of Thanksgiving recipes, has been handing out free Thanksgiving turkeys to the community since 2013.
Giving back: Tyler Perry, 51, showed off his generous spirit on Sunday as he offered free Thanksgiving meal supplies to 5,000 families in Atlanta; pictured in 2018
‘Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays,’ he said, in a series of interviews to promote his book at the time. ‘It’s a double-hitter – you got good food and you got good football on the same day.’
The turkeys and sides on Monday’s event were donated by Don Lee Farms, the L.A. Regional Food Bank, Pepsi and Frito-Lay.
The day before, Tyler Perry, the billionaire actor and film studio owner, had sparked chaos in Atlanta by offering 5,000 boxes of free Thanksgiving foods – corn muffin mix, tinned green beans and side dishes, plus a $25 voucher.
People queued for up to 16 hours to get hold of one of the boxes, with lines of traffic stretching back 12 miles and snarling up roads all around Perry’s Atlanta studio.
In Texas on Monday, long lines of cars were seen waiting for free Thanksgiving food in Austin.
In the last major handout before Thursday’s holiday, about 1,400 vehicles, representing an estimated 5,000 people, pulled into the parking lot at Tony Burger Stadium in South Austin on Monday morning.
Three lanes of food distribution were set up.
‘There is a lot of need in this city for various reasons, but there is also a lot to be thankful for,’ said Derrick Chubbs, working with the Central Texas Food Bank, which organized the event.
‘One, we live in a city that is as philanthropic and giving as Austin.’
Lines of cars stretched 12 miles long as people waited to get in to Perry’s Atlanta studios on Sunday
Traffic was snarled up as tired people, some of whom spent the night in their cars, waited for their free food
Thousands waited in line for the free food packages donated by the Louisiana-born billionaire
Marissa Rodriguez told Fox 7: ‘It means a lot to us, it helps out a lot. Without them, we’d probably not have much.’
John Cornyn, the recently re-elected Republican senator for Texas, was among those helping to hand out the food.
‘The most important thing we need to remember is not to go through pandemic fatigue,’ he said.
‘We know we all have an individual responsibility to ourselves, to our families, to not spread this virus, and the way we do that is wash our hands, maintain social distancing, masking and stay at home when you’re sick.’
John Cornyn, senator for Texas, helped at a Thanksgiving food distribution on Monday
Volunteers for the Central Texas Food Bank load food into vehicles at a food distribution event
Hundreds of cars waited in line in Austin for Monday’s food distribution event
John Cornyn, senator for Texas in a Texan flag face mask, helped distribute the goods
Volunteers in Austin stacked boxes and helped those in need as they drove through the site
A volunteer in Texas waits to put food in cars during the Austin event on Monday
The Austin, Texas event drew and estimated 1,400 vehicles to receive food supplies
In Iowa, people trudged through the snow to collect their supplies from the food bank.
Mike Miller, president of the River Bend Food Bank, said the need was urgent, given the pandemic making people lose their jobs.
‘It went from 105,000 to almost 160,000 people in need,’ he told WQAD8.
‘Since then it’s eased up a little bit but only by about 10,000 – there’s still about 147,000 people out there who don’t have enough food.’
In Michigan, dozens of cars lined up for free Thanksgiving meals on Monday at Coloma High School in Coloma, south west of the state.
Staff passed out 440 boxes to registered Coloma families containing a nine-pound turkey breast, a five-pound bag of potatoes, frozen French-cut green beans, a pack of dinner rolls and a pumpkin pie.
Coloma Schools staff help distribute boxes of free Thanksgiving meals on Monday in Michigan
The chilly conditions in Iowa did not stop the volunteers and staff from handing out supplies
Volunteers braved the freezing conditions to help hand out food to needy Iowans
A child volunteering at a food distribution site in Iowa carries parcels to waiting cars on Monday
In Des Moines, Iowa, a man is seen checking off the names of people collecting food parcels
Snow was falling in Iowa on Monday as Thanksgiving food was handed out
A volunteer hands a bag of food to a motorist in line during a Thanksgiving food distribution at a park in Des Moines
New Yorkers were given assistance ahead of the cold winter months on Monday thanks to a coat drive
In Harlem, warm winter coats were being distributed by the volunteers and staff on Monday
Food Bank For New York City gave out 500 turkeys, canned goods and produce to hundreds of families in the neighborhood of Harlem on Monday.
Many had never imagined needing handouts to survive.
‘You don’t think of yourself as getting on a line,’ said Ruth Crawford through tears, as she and her mother waited to pick up a turkey.
‘It’s shocking and it’s sad. You don’t think you’re going to lose your job, but things happen.’
Food Bank for New York City said it was partnering with supermarket chain Stop & Shop to give away 2,000 turkeys over the next two weeks.
‘The rates of COVID are rising in the city, and so the need is increasing along with that,’ said Leslie Gordon, the charity group’s president and chief executive.
Nearly two million New Yorkers do not always know where their next meal is coming from, up from 1.5 million before the pandemic, she noted.
In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, dozens and dozens of cars showed up for a Greater Pittsburgh Community Food bank drive-up food distribution in Duquesne, on the outskirts of Pittsburg.
Unemployment has surged during the pandemic, peaking in April at 14.7 per cent – the highest level since the Great Depression.
The most recent data, for October, puts unemployment at 6.9 per cent, or nearly double the 3.5 per cent rate in February, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cars wait in line during a Greater Pittsburgh Community Food bank drive-up food distribution in Duquesne
Volunteers load boxes of food into a car during at the drive-up food distribution in Duquesne, Pennsylvania